Mutations in the BANYULS (BAN) gene lead to precocious accumulation of anthocyanins in immature seed coat in Arabidopsis. The ban -1 allele has been isolated from a collection of T-DNA transformants and found to be tagged by the integrative molecule. The sequencing of wild-type and two independent mutant alleles confirmed the identity of the gene. Analysis of the full-length cDNA sequence revealed an open reading frame encoding a 342 amino acid protein which shared strong similarities with DFR and other enzymes of the phenylpropanoid biosynthesis pathway. BAN expression was restricted to the endothelium of immature seeds at the pre-globular to early globular stages of development as predicted from the maternal inheritance of the phenotype, and therefore represents a marker for early differentiation and development of the seed coat. BAN is probably involved in a metabolic channelling between the production of anthocyanins and pro-anthocyanidins in the seed coat.